If you’re in the service business in any capacity, your client relationships are absolutely critical—and can be the differentiator that sets your company apart from your competitors. How can you distinguish your organization from the masses, build your reputation, and earn repeat business from happy clients? Here are a few suggestions:
Put the client first. This should go without saying, but your client’s needs come first. Put your client front and center and keep their goals top of mind, no matter what you do. Things like growing revenue and expanding your client base, of course, but repeat this mantra: your job is to help your clients in some specific way. Ultimately, everything you do should boil down to that.
Be responsive. Nothing frustrates a client more than waiting for you to return their call or feeling like they have to chase you down for an answer to a question. Even if you’re busy or unable to work on a request right away, acknowledge receipt of all emails within a day of receiving them (barring travel or other situations where you are truly inaccessible).
Make every client feel important. You don’t have to pump up a client’s ego to make them feel like they matter, but making small clients feel small is the wrong approach (your smallest client today could one day be your biggest one). Act excited about new projects, even if you’re a little overwhelmed or have a few upfront concerns. Assure clients when they are stressed that together, you’ll solve any problem they bring to the table. And above all, express your gratitude often—to all clients.
Get to know clients as people. Companies are comprised of people, and people have lives outside of the walls of their office. Make an effort to learn a little about each of your clients: if they are married or have children, what they do for fun, what they’re passionate about outside of work, and how long they’ve been working at the company. That personal touch means more than you might realize and will strengthen your long-term client relationships.
Add value. Always be on the lookout for other ways to help clients. When a project you’re working on could use a detailed timeline to keep things on track, take the initiative to create one, even if you haven’t been asked to. Share timely news in your client’s industry that they might find interesting or useful. If your client is seeking a new vendor, offer to send a referral if you have one. Remember that your client might hire you to do something for them, but they’ll keep hiring you because you are a valuable member of their extended team.
Treat your employees well. Many say that happy employees create happy customers, and it’s a truth for business-to-business companies as well. In a consulting or other client service business, employees often deal directly with clients. Create an employee- and client-centric culture that gives employees opportunities to grow and learn and emphasizes the importance of solid client relationships.
Invest in your client relationships and you’ll be rewarded with dividends for many years to come. Your company exists to solve problems for clients and make their jobs easier. Deliver great service, create authentic relationships based on respect and trust, and go the extra mile, and your clients will appreciate and remember it.